Daily Spirit & Word: 764: You Can’t Argue With God.
Part 4: Psalm 139: God’s Righteous Judgement.
Good morning my friends, today I’m back into Psalm 139 with the final episode in our adventure. What a Psalm this is!
I’d encourage you to keep reading and re-reading the whole Psalm, you’ll soon see there’s a progression in King David’s thinking; He’s moving on from;
1) God’s Knowledge of Us: He knows me completely.
2) God’s Presence Everywhere: You can’t get away from God.
3) God’s Creative Genius: He Made Me Wonderfully.
4) God’s Just Judgement: I Can’t Argue With God.
Let’s read together the final part of Psalm 139:19-24.
God’s Righteous Judgement.
Psalm 139:19-24 (NIV) 19 If only you would slay the wicked, O God! Away from me, you bloodthirsty men! 20 They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. 21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD, and abhor those who rise up against you? 22 I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies. 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
King David begins this section of the Psalm with the thought, “If only you would slay the wicked, O God!” It’s as if King David is judging God.
How he hates those who are wicked and sinful in his own time. Like he’s telling God something He doens’t know 🙂 How foolish.
It’s right for us to hate what the wicked and sinful people of this world do. We’re horrified when we hear as we did the other day, of how ISIS (Islamic State) have brutally treated women, men and children. Murder, rape, torture and brutal treatments. Forcing women into slavery. It’s horrific! “If only You would slay the wicked”… We might cry that out to The Lord God as well. However, when we cry for God’s JUST JUDGEMENT we’d better be very careful, because if God is going to be judging them, then He’s also going to be judging us as well. So we must remember that God HATES all forms of sin: to Him lying, stealing and lust as just as bad as murder and rape. God has NO FAVOURITES and one day He’s promised that ALL SINNERS will find their place in the lake of fire. Judgement Day is coming, but give thanks to the LORD that He’s waiting patiently for those who will REPENT.
I’ve heard many encouraging stories of Muslims, disturbed by the brutality of ISIS, who’re now coming to faith and trust in Jesus Christ, because they see in Christianity a PEACE LOVING people, who’re not motivated by hatred, but by forgiveness, kindness, gentleness and generosity. They’re intrigued by it, and the LORD is also giving many Muslims visions and dreams about Jesus Christ. They’re coming into God’s Kingdom. Praise the LORD!
So when we’re tempted as King David was to cry out to the Lord to slay the wicked, let’s also follow his train of thought right to the end of the Psalm, “Search ME, O God, and know MY heart; test ME and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive (sinful, rebellious) way in ME, and lead me in the way (The way of Righteousness, the WAY of Holiness, the WAY of Jesus) everlasting.”
If we’re completely honest with God and with ourselves, we’ll see that we’re not all that we think we are. We’ll acknowledge our own need of His rich grace, kindness and mercy. It’s so easy to be pointing the finger at others, looking a how they are failing, watching to see them stumble and fall from God’s grace. It’s even possible to HATE their sins, because we’re not sinning like they are. We can look and say, “What they are doing is horrendous”, but excuse our own little excursions from God’s holy standards.
Jesus gave a very humorous illustrations:
“Take the PLANK out of your own eyes, before you remove the SPLINTER in your friend’s eye”. Matthew 7:1-6.
It really is true that we’re sometimes blinded by our own self-righteousness. (See also Romans 1:1-16 God’s Righteous Judgement).
Remember Jesus teaching about the Pharisee and the Tax Collector: It was the Tax Collector who went home justified in God’s sight, because he was repentant and humble. Luke 18:9-14.
When you are tempted to point your finger at someone, because of their “sinfulness”. Stop and take a look at your own hand, because there are three fingers left and they’re all pointing right back at you.
The Father: Genesis 6:6.
The Son: Mark 3:5; Luke 19:41
The Holy Spirit: Ephesians 4:30.
The NEXT TIME:
The next time your feeling a bit self-righteous or someone in your fellowship or church gets up your nose, think, “O LORD, look at my own heart…” It funny how the little things that others do really bugs us, but let’s give them some more grace, forgiveness, mercy, kindness and patience. After all, the LORD has been so patient and kind to me…
God will ALWAYS Judge Righteously: We can’t point the finger at God and say, “Why are you not doing something about those wicked people?” as if it’s His fault. He’s the ONE who’s going to be doing the judgement of all of us, not the other way around. Neither can we point out what others are doing wrong and get off the hook ourselves. Remember how much the LORD has forgiven you for all your sins. So let’s get down from our High Castle or our High Horse or our Ivory Tower, and get onto our knees and ask Him humbly, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
I started off by saying “You can’t argue with God”, but we can and we do. Jesus said, “I AM The Way and The Truth and The Life” So my friends, let’s stop pointing fingers at God and others and get right ourselves. We, those who’re following Jesus today, need a PERSONAL REVIVAL of Holiness, Faith and Righteous Living. We need to be full of the Holy Spirit to enable us to walk just one step on Jesus way of life. Let’s get full to overflowing again today. Amen!
Daily Spirit & Word: 734: The FISHERMAN’S MIRACLE.
When The Fish Jump INTO the Boat.
How does SIN Separate Mankind from God?
People are BLIND = Cannot immediately see their need of Jesus.
People are DEAF = Cannot HEAR when you tell them the Good News.
Need to be shown HOW they’ve become SEPARATED from God.
Good morning my friends, we’ve got a wonderful thing happens once a month in West Norwood: The West Norwood Feast. It’s a GOLDEN Opportunity for us as Christians, to build significant and purposeful relationships with our community. We’ve been commanded by the LORD himself to GO into the world to share the good news, that’s brilliant and so many of us are being obedient to that command here in St Luke’s, in many different ways. However, once a month we don’t really need to go out and go fishing, because it’s like the FISHERMAN’S MIRACLE, the fish are jumping into the boat, i.e. The Community is coming to us.
THE FISH ARE JUMPING INTO THE BOAT
A TRUTH We’ve Discovered:
94% of people want to go to Heaven.
How have we discovered this TRUTH? Because every week we go out into the streets and engage with people who don’t go to church, and we ask this question: “Do you believe in Heaven?”
They want to go to Heaven on their own terms, i.e. without the NEED of being religious.
How do we know? Because we ask them, “Do you think you’ll get into Heaven when you die?”
Again 100% of people, who believe in heaven, HOPE they’ll get in, and 94% think they’ll be good enough for heaven.
Most say things like this:
“You don’t need to go to church to be a “good” person.”
“You don’t need to be a religious person to get into Heaven, you just need to be good”.
“If there is a God, then He’d be a good God and let people into Heaven”.
This my friends, is the ‘religion’ of the vast majority of people in the world.
They believe in a god that will let anyone into heaven, regardless of how they’ve lived their lives, because most of the time, they’ve been good, i.e. Their good deeds outweigh their bad deeds. So they’ll be good enough for heaven when they die.
They don’t know it, but in believing this, they’ve broken the Second Commandment: They’ve made a god to suit themselves, which is Idolatry. Because their god is not the God of the Bible: It’s a world-wide man-made god. Their god is tollerant of sin and will allow the sinful to get into Heaven. However, we know that they don’t know or understand that God is Holy, Righteous and Good.
WHAT THEY DON’T KNOW OR UNDERSTAND:
My friends, most people don’t know or understand this truth; “How sin actually separates mankind from God”. (or more pointedly, how their own sin has separated them from God forever and forfeited all hope of heaven).
They are convinced of their own goodness in God’s sight. It’s like they are wearing: Dark Glasses and Sound Excluding Headphones. (i.e. they won’t see and can’t hear: The Bible says, they are BLIND and DEAF: DEAD in their transgressions and sins).
So like the miracle of the BLIND man being healed and the DEAF man being able to hear, we need a way to ENABLE them to see and hear this truth.
First: Let’s Check Your Own Compassion Level:
You are out having a picnic at Beachy Head: (Beautiful White Cliffs & Lovely Green Grass): You are sitting eating your sandwiches and drinking your juice. You notice a BLIND MAN: He’s walking along towards the edge of the cliff tops, tapping his white stick. Oh and by the way, he’s wearing PINK Headphones.
If you were watching a Blind Man walking along with big pink headphones on his head, tapping his way with a white-stick towards a three hundred foot cliff, blissfully unaware of where he’s heading, what would you do? WHAT WOULD YOU DO? You know that if he keeps going he’s going to tumble over the edge and die. What would you do?
(BTW: Josie Nystrom: Thank’s for being prepared to act this out in church on Sunday: You are a STAR).
That’s right, YOU’VE GOT COMPASSION, you would run as fast as you could and grab hold of the blind man and stop him in his tracks.
Shouting at him wouldn’t work, because he can’t hear you.
Showing him the cliff won’t work, because he can’t see the danger.
So you’d just grab hold of him.
Your NORMAL human compassion kicks-in and you act automatically to stop anyone from falling to their death: right?
Firstly: For you to be able to LEAD people to Jesus from today onwards, I’m going to explain what happened in the Garden of Eden. How mankind, because of Adam’s sin, got separated from God, and remained separated until God came down to the Earth in Jesus and made it possible for us to come back into Heaven (Paradise, The Garden of Eden) and be with Him again.
Secondly, God has given us a WAY to GRAB PEOPLE: Hold them and show them their DANGER.
Thirdly: Have COMPASSION: Remember, they are BLIND and DEAF: The People of this World who don’t know Jesus Christ as Lord: They can’t see and they can’t hear so they don’t KNOW the Danger they are in.
We KNOW that if they were to die in their sins, they’d face God on Judgement day and be sent to Hell.
Surely we’ve got the same kind of COMPASSION for the lost souls of this world as we have for a blind man walking towards the edge of a cliff?
Listen to your NORMAL Human Compassion and think about their ETERNAL Destiny.
The GARDEN of Eden Explained:
(How SIN Separates Mankind from God).
To Demonstrate: I need: an Adam, an Eve, God and the Serpent (Devil). (Demonstrate Physically). A fruit tree and an apple (piece of fruit). Light Sabre: Flaming Sword. & Jesus. An Cherub and someone to be Jesus.
Read Genesis Chapter 3. Genesis 3.
(Act it out: Demonstrate HOW Mankind Got Separated From God).
God said, “Don’t touch or eat or you will die”:
Eve was tempted first, then gave some to Adam.
They hid themselves, because they KNEW they were NAKED.
God came looking for them. (He knew what they’d done, but wanted to confront them with the truth).
Eve blamed the Serpent (Satan).
Adam blamed both God and his wife.
God banished them all from the Garden of Eden.
Put flaming swords in the way… (Question: Why did God put a flaming sword between mankind and Eden? Answer: Because man wants to get Eternal Life without going to God).
What is SIN?
1 John 3:4 (NIV) “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.”
Another translation of the Greek says; “Sin is TRANSGRESSION of The Law”…
The LAW spoken of in the verse above is The Commandments of God. When we sin we break God’s Law. The punishment for breaking God’s law is DEATH and Banishment from God’s presence or access to the tree of life. (Example: See Adam and Eve in Genesis 3)…
What Is The Punishment For SIN?
The Bible tells us: “The soul that sins it shall die” Ezekiel 18:20.
And: “The Wages of sin is DEATH”… Romans 6:23.
A person who sins is acting as if there are no commandments, i.e. without any laws. Or as if God has not said that it’s wrong.
This is a perfect picture of what life is getting like in our world today, people doing whatever they like, as if there is no moral law against it or as if God had not declared in the Commandments: You shall not steal, you shall not lie, you shall not covet, you shall not….
When Adam sinned the whole human race became infected with SIN. It’s in our blood, our nature and our character. We sin from early years all the way through our life. Every day we sin in some way. In our natural born state as human beings, we are sinful. King David said, “I was sinful from birth”… When was the first time in your own life that you became aware of your own sinful condition? For me it was when my brother and I stole some lead. We both knew we were doing wrong, then it was stealing sweets from Woolworths. When we stole those sweets we blamed Woolworths for making it so tempting, by putting them right next to the exit doors. Just because we were tempted to steal, it was our own greed that was driving us, not Woolworths placement of those sweets. One act of stealing, in God’s eyes, makes me and my brother into thieves. We are guilty of stealing. The punishment for sin: is death, because we’re guilty of offending God, not Woolworths. Whenever we sin, our conscience is crying out to us to STOP: But we ignore our own, God given, Conscience. Over time, with repeated offences the conscience gets quieter and quieter until it becomes almost undetectable by our soul. It’s like our conscience becomes seared or dies. However, a miracle can happen, we can have our conscience re-awakened and revived, by Hearing God’s LAW. Suddenly when we hear the Ten Commandments the Conscience comes back to life again and warns us of the impending dangers of our sinful actions, thoughts and choices.
What’s The Cure For SIN?
God came down in Jesus to rescue us from Satan, Sin and Death, Eternal Separation from God in Hell. (Hell is God’s place of banishment for rebellion against Him. Away from God’s presence for all eternity is going to be terrible, all you need to do to know what it’s like is read or listen to the words of Jesus on the subject).
But BECAUSE of HIS LOVE: God so loved everyone in the world, He doesn’t want a single soul to perish forever in Hell. So that’s why Jesus came to die in our place upon the Cross.
Forgiveness for our sinful rebellion is possible. It’s free for us, but it cost God dearly.
Question: How can we GRAB HOLD of the Blind and Deaf?
They can’t see.
They won’t hear.
Satan has both blinded them and made them deaf to the Gospel. (i.e. those who’ve never repented and trusted in Jesus).
2 Corinthians 4:3-5 (NIV) They Can’t SEE. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. (They are Blind) 4 The god of this age (Satan) has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.
Matthew 13:14-15 (NIV) They Can’t SEE or HEAR. 14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: ” ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. 15 For this people’s heart has become calloused (hard); they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn (Repent), and I would heal (Forgive and Cleanse) them.’
Thankfully God has given us a WAY:
It is POSSIBLE: To open blind eyes and unblock deaf ears.
With two great tools: To open eyes, unblock ears and in the process to soften hard-hearts.
1) The Conscience: God given moral compass. (Some people’s conscience is dead, but we can bring it back to life again).
2) The Commandments: God has written these upon their hearts. (They KNOW the truth deep down inside their souls).
With these two great Spiritual weapons, we can enable the blind unbeliever to see and the deaf rebel to hear. We can grab hold of them and stop them falling over the deadly cliff of death into the pit of eternal Hell.
Their own Conscience will bear witness to the TRUTH within their hearts. It will do so long after we’ve finished talking with them. Because, with the help of the Holy Spirit (Who’s job it is to bring conviction of sin), they’ll be brought out of the darkness into the light of understanding.
John 16:8 (NIV) “When he (Holy Spirit) comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment:”
Only the Holy Spirit can bring conviction of sin. All we have to do is get people’s hearts ready for the Holy Spirit to do His work. He’s already bringing conviction upon many people in the world today, because you’ll have been praying for them before you even go and speak to them.
God has chosen you and me, those who believe in Jesus Christ, to work with Him (Holy Spirit) in bringing the world to faith and trust in Jesus Christ.
Here’s HOW Jesus did it: It’s called THE WAY OF THE MASTER.
OPENING UP THE COMMANDMENTS:
(Practically Grabbing Hold of the Blind and Deaf Before they fall into Eternity).
Here is explained HOW to use God’s two great tools to bring people out of the darkness into the light.
Start where people are: That’s what Jesus did.
They (most of them) all want to go to Heaven.
Ask them, “Are you or Do you think you are good enough for heaven?”
Most will think they are or hope they are good enough.
Ask, “Have you heard of God’s Ten Commandments?” Even if they haven’t heard them, they are written upon their hearts anyway, so their conscience will remind them.
Ask, “Do you think you’ve kept those Commandments?”… Most think they have.
Begin by asking, “Have you ever told a lie?” Explain that a liar can’t get into Heaven.
Then proceed through all Ten (if you need to). Most times you won’t need to go through all TEN of the Commandments, because you’ll notice that the Holy Spirit is working on their souls, their conscience also bearing witness. When they stop trying to justify themselves, you’ll know they are ready for the GRACE of the Gospel: The Good News of Jesus Christ.
NOTE: The Old Time Preachers: The Apostles, Jesus Christ, George Whitefield, Charles Wesley, Spurgeon, Moody, J.C. Ryle, etc: all called the COMMANDMENTS (The Law) the preparation of a soul for the Gospel. The preaching of the Law opens up a heart, ploughs the hard soil-hearers, and gets ready for the seed of the Gospel to be planted.
Once you’ve explained the Commandments, and God’s Holy Standards of Righteousness, you don’t need to spend very long at all on the Gospel. The GOOD NEWS.
It’s like a good doctor explaining a patient’s need for treatment. He won’t spend very long on the cure, because once he’s explained the symptoms and what will happen if the patient is not treated, they’ll be ready for the cure. “Give it to me, please, Doctor. Give me the cure…”…
When you are like a good doctor and explain the patient’s need for a cure, then I’m sure you are going to see many of those fishes jumping into the boat all by themselves 🙂 Once they know the danger they are in, they’ll jump into the net of Salvation.
The CURE for Sin’s Curse: Death and Hell: New Life and Heaven.
Jesus came and died in their place upon the Cross, so they don’t need to go to their death with their sins still on them, they can be forgiven, cleansed and given a new life, if they will believe in Jesus, trust that His death was for them, turn in repentance (forsaking sin) and receive Him as their Lord and Saviour. (SEE The GOOD NEWS of Jesus Christ).
Here in West Norwood in London, we’ve been given a Golden Opportunity, when the World comes to us once a month for the FEAST, let’s be focused and be ready to make the most of God’s amazing golden opportunities, and build significant relationships with those He is already drawing into His Kingdom Family. With His help and tools we can open up blind eyes and deaf ears.
Be strategic, look for the people who’s hearts He’s already softening:
They’ll be the ones He’s drawing to Himself,
They’ll be open to hearing the Good News about Jesus.
They’ll be ready to discover a new way of living.
They’ll be frustrated with their life so far.
They’ll be aware they can’t live-up to their own standards.
They’ll be being convicted by the Holy Spirit of their need of Jesus.
They may not be instantly ready to repent, because it may take several times to hear God’s good news and the whole Gospel, but there will be AN OPENNESS. Remember how stubborn you were, before you finally repented and trusted in Jesus Christ? It took a while to convince you of your own need of a Saviour, so don’t ever give up on someone, keep praying for your loved ones every day. God cares more about their eternal welfare than you do, He’s patient, because He doesn’t want a single human soul to perish in Hell. (2 Peter 3:9).
Remember: Adam and Eve, they show us how the great divide happened, how mankind’s relationship with God was broken, and in Jesus Christ, God’s Son, we find the cure for man’s sinful rebellion, sin, wickedness and waywardness. Like the compassion we have for the Blind Man, let’s be filled with the same compassion as our Lord Jesus Christ has and go out and save those He’s calling into His Kingdom family. Amen!
The People of this World need our COMPASSION not our CONDEMNATION.
Have a wonderful week, keep fishing for men and women.
Remember to have compassion because they are blind and deaf; don’t shout at them they can’t hear you, don’t try and show them, because they can’t see their need of Jesus yet, but rescue them and with the tools God has provided to open blind eyes and unblock deaf ears; Their Conscience and His Commandments, and the Holy Spirit working on their souls, together let’s make them aware of their spiritual condition: let’s go fishing for souls in the sea of life. Hopefully, with God’s help, we’ll be able to catch a few fish before we’re taken back into our Eternal dwelling place. Amen!
Jesus said, “I will make you fishers of men” Matthew 4:19 and Mark 1:17… i.e. When we come to Jesus, He makes us want to catch fish.
“If you don’t want other people to be saved, then you are NOT saved yourself. Be certain of that.” Charles Spurgeon.
The people of this world need our compassion not our condemnation.
They are Blind and Deaf: But you can, with God’s tools and help, open up their EYES and EARS…
Be blessed in Jesus,
The People of this world are BLIND and DEAF: S.O.S….
They need our compassion and kindness, to be shown their need of a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. They are headed for a fall into Eternity, so let’s get the same kind of compassion as Jesus Christ has, and save some souls. There is an S.O.S. but they don’t know their danger, because if they did they’d cry out “S.O.S” … “Save Our Souls”…
Christianity is not a Religion or Rules, but a Relationship.
Good morning my friends, it’s good to be back into our series going through the Gospel of Mark: We pick up where we left off in Mark 2:18-22. However, we must bear in mind that the Gospel of Mark is not just a selection of stories about Jesus life and teachings, but is carefully put together by God’s inspiration to communicate a message. When we read the Gospel as a letter all in one go, we’ll see that this section of Mark reveals the growing tension and opposition from the ‘religious’ people of Jesus time, because Jesus teaching and practice was stark in it’s contrast between what they both taught and did religiously, it also slowly begins to reveal what they were like on the inside.
Religion: Is a way of doing things to please / appease or entreat God:
Rules (in religion) are the correct ways of doing these things.
Relationship: Christianity is God’s way of getting close to Him.
If you look at the Bible as a whole, you’ll note that the people with whom God was most pleased were those who walked with Him: Noah, Enoch, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Gideon, Samuel, David and Solomon. There are many, many more, but the reason God was so pleased with them, was not because they kept or followed the Jewish Religion to the letter, but because their hearts were set on being with God. Moses was a “Friend of God” and King David, was renowned as “a man after God’s own heart”. (Christianity: it’s all about relationship).
It was NEVER meant to be about how ‘religious’ you are: Yet even today, people mistake Christianity as a ‘religion’ first and foremost, when right from the time that Jesus walked, talked and taught His own disciples, it was all about how to get into and maintain a relationship with God as your Father in Heaven.
Christianity: Is viewed by the Media, Government and Education system as a “Religion”. Even in Church Schools today Christianity is taught as just ONE of the world’s religions. It’s as if we (the human race) have a smorgasbord (a collection of many different varieties of religion) of different religions that we can choose from; Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Seikism, Catholicism, Mormonism and Christianity. Today they are all labeled as “Faith Communities”, as if they are all different versions of the same thing. They are not the same, there is only ONE valid way of getting to know God today, it’s NOT through ‘religious’ practice, but in a relationship with and through His One and Only Son Jesus Christ.
My friends, at the START of 2016: I believe God wants you to KNOW afresh today, that Christianity, being a Christian: Is NOT a Religion or a Set of Rules and Regulations, but it’s all about your RELATIONSHIP with God through the LORD Jesus Christ.
In this section of Mark’s Gospel: We see that opposition to Jesus teaching of this FACT brought about fierce criticism, to the point that people plotted to murder Him. Mark 3, but let’s just focus today upon this;
Mark 2:18-22 (NIV)
18 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, “How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?”
19 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them.
20 But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.
21 “No-one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse.
22 And no-one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins.”
The Pharisees had been practising their religion for generations, following the traditions and teaching of men. You don’t find much fasting in the Old Testament: It’s only when people needed to get back to God. The Pharisees, of course, wanted to know why Jesus wasn’t following their religious practices. The way they saw it, if Jesus was a good Jew, He’d be even more religious than them or at least as ‘religious’.
Christianity is a totally DIFFERENT way of being with God.
All other religions in the world: Follow, rules and regulations to be right with God. (the Pharisees were no different).
Only Christianity is shown to be a way of faith where God came to make man right with Himself.
The Drowning Man:
It’s like this: A man was drowning in the middle of the wildest ocean on earth; the Atlantic. He began to shout for help;
Moses chirped in first: I’ll give you ten ways to swim in the ocean: follow these instructions and you will be safe: The man tried to follow Moses teachings, but still he was still drowning and shouted again for help.
Mohammed: who was sitting with Moses and the others, chirped in: just find the direction of Mecca, Kneel down and pray five times a day; and you’ll be safe. The man tried, but every time he did so the water went up his nose.
Buddha: shouted, no don’t try and save yourself, be still, accept your karma and just empty your mind.
The man tried to be still, but each time he did so, he began to sink. He cried out for help, his situation was getting serious as he was too weak to carry on.
Then the Lord Jesus: pushed the others aside, saw the man’s predicament, that he was drowning, Jesus dived in to SAVE the man. He lifted him up and they both walked on the water to the shore. The man was SAVED by Jesus.
What use is RELIGION to a drowning man?
What’s the difference: Each and every world religion teaches that we must follow a set of rules and regulations in order to please or appease God, to be right with God, but through the teachings of Jesus Christ, we can see that it’s all about how we RELATE to God. It always was, even in the Old Testament, but the Jews missed it or misunderstood it. But God had made it clear from the outset;
God Chooses to be With People:
Exodus 6:6-8 (NIV) Moses was to tell the Israelites: (Relationship).
6 “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.
7 I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.
8 And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.’ “
(NOTE: Can you see that this is exactly what God did when He sent His Son Jesus Christ to SAVE mankind? He rescued us from the cruel bondage to sin, satan and the world; set us free and gave us new life in the promised land; the Kingdom of God)
Jeremiah 30:22 (NIV) ” ‘So you will be my people, and I will be your God.’ “
Jeremiah 31:32-34 (NIV) The Promise of the NEW Covenant (Agreement).
32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD.
33 “This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
34 No longer will a man teach his neighbour, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
Leviticus 26:11-13 (NIV)
11 I will put my dwelling-place among you, and I will not abhor you.
12 I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.
13 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.
2 Corinthians 6:16 (NIV)
16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
Revelation 21:3-5 (NIV)
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.
4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
God Makes It Possible for RELATIONSHIP: Between those He chooses and those who respond to His invitation.
In Jesus teaching here in Mark’s Gospel: Mark 2:21 “No-one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. 22 And no-one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins.” Jesus is NOT giving us a NEW religion, He’s revealing that trying to maintain the OLD religion will NEVER work. It will be like pouring new wine into old wineskin, the wine and the skin will be ruined.
Have you ever had an old pair of jeans with a rip? Did you ever try and repair that rip with NEW denim? If you did, then you’ll know that when you wash it, the NEW denim will shrink and make the tear even worse. I did that myself in the 1970s. I learned the hard way that you need old denim to mend old jeans. No my friends, to repair old jeans you need old denim that’s been washed a few times, but is still OK. Then you’ll be able to wear you jeans until they wear out.
However: Christianity is NOT just sticking a patch of ‘religion’ on an old religion, it’s a totally different way of being right with God. Jesus didn’t come to give us another ‘religion’ but a relationship that lasts forever.
Christianity, the way of being right with God, is TOTALLY different from the Old World Religions: You can’t get right with God by following; rules, religious rules and regulations. There’s no way to pray to be right with God. There’s no way to do right, to get right with God. Because trying your best still leaves you the same inside. You can’t erase sin by doing more good. You cannot become pure by praying more. There is a way to be purified though, to be washed clean and be right with God forever. All you need to do, to get right with God today, is get into the RELATIONSHIP that He’s always wanted with mankind from the beginning of Creation: However, He waited until the time war right to send Jesus Christ, His One and Only Son into the world, to make the way possible.
REPENT (turn from sin, trying to live without God, turn to God)
Believe (Believe that Jesus Christ died upon the Cross to pay the price for your sins so that you can be forgiven, set free from sin, given new life and be filled with God the Holy Spirit),
Receive: receive Jesus Christ as your LORD and Saviour, then Jesus will be your friends, God will be with you, God will walk with you, He will be your God and you will be one of His people.
Relate: What do you do after Repenting, Believing and Receiving? Do you follow a religious code or rule of life? NO! It’s all about a continuing relationship, following the teachings of Jesus Christ in which He shows you how to live in such a way that God will continue to be pleased with you and you will be a PEACE. Things like; love your neighbour, enemy, wife, family, the stranger, the alien, the poor, the weak, the widow. Love your fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord, love the Lord… It’s all about a RELATIONSHIP of LOVE.
Jesus teaches that once we’re in God’s Family; we’ll want to be holy, honest, righteous, good and true. He’ll change our heart’s desires so that we will not want to sin anymore. He does this or it is accomplished by the indwelling presence of God the Holy Spirit. Therefore, He tells us to be filled afresh with Holy Spirit.
Repent; Believe; Receive; Walk; Live; Relate….
Note: None of that is anything to do with a ‘religion’. It’s relationship from beginning to end.
NOTE: It’s ONLY through Jesus Christ that we can have or enter into this relationship with God. He paid the price, we receive the benefits.
So: When you next hear someone saying, “To be a good Christian you must; wear these clothes, practice this form of religion, fast regularly, pray this way, do it like this,,,” You’ll KNOW they are trying to ADD ‘religion’ onto the FREEDOM that Jesus came and won for you on the Cross to bring you into a relationship with God as Father that lasts forever.
It’s no wonder my friends, that Jesus taught those ‘religious’ Pharisees so clearly; you can’t sew a new patch on old cloth, you can’t pour new wine into old wineskins… the tear will get worse, the skin will burst… both the skin and the new wine will be ruined. Jesus way was NOT just a patch on the old way, it was NOT new ‘religion’ into the old religious system.
If you try to be religious after getting saved and set free by Jesus Christ, it’s like pouring your new wine of God’s Kingdom into the old wineskins of religiosity. Don’t be tempted to do it.
Yes: A believer in Jesus will; pray, read God’s Word daily, fast occasionally and live righteously in the world, but He’ll be doing it to be closer to God. A believer will do it because He loves God and wants to serve and give his life for God. He’ll not be doing it to try to earn a place or the favour of God. God LOVES you once you are His child. He’ll be your God, you will be one of His people, He’ll be with you forever. No amount of religious practice will ever add anything to your relationship with God.
1 Peter 2:6-12 (NIV)
6 For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”
7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,” 8 and, “A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
11 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.
12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
My friends, Jesus came, not to pour the new wine of the Kingdom of God into the old winskins of ‘religious’ practice, but to give us a NEW WAY of being right with God. You, if you’ve responded to the Gospel, are God’s Chosen People. You are holy because Christ has washed you clean from your sins when you accepted His sacrifice of Himself upon the Cross, not because of religious practice or observance. You are Royal: Because you are a member of the King’s family now. LIVE then as God’s royal, holy, redeemed people. In the freedom from religion that Christ came and died to win, it’s a freedom that will outlast this Earth. Live, walk and love in RELATIONSHIP with Jesus Christ and His holy and redeemed family.
I’ll say it again; My friends, at the START of 2016: I believe God wants us to KNOW afresh today, that Christianity, being a Christian: Is NOT about Religion or a Set of Rules and Regulations, but it’s all about your RELATIONSHIP with God through the LORD Jesus Christ, it lasts forever with God as your Father.
Question: Do you want the New Wine of Jesus Kingdom within you? Do you want Him to forgive you and change you on the inside? Do you want His love to fill you to overflowing, so that you’ll long to follow His ways? Or do you still desire a religion that is HARD like the old wineskin of Judaism, Islam, Hinduism etc, etc? You cannot have both!
Jesus did not come to give us a new religion, it’s not even a patch that you can stick over an old religion, but a relationship with God the Father that will last for all eternity from the moment you make Jesus Christ your Lord and Saviour.
Have an Awesome Sunday with Jesus your LORD. Amen!